We’ve already established how important it is for generations to connect with one another, from what we can learn from kids or older generations, to how much simple contact from generation to generation can help. But how do we connect different generations?
It’s not easy to break out of same-age contact, especially in our ageist culture. That’s why Encore.org created the Gen2Gen Encore Prize. This competition taps today’s greatest minds to create new and exciting ways to connect different generations. The winner is awarded $50,000, and all top 5 finalists are awarded ongoing coaching and support to bring their ideas to life.
This year’s competition was especially thrilling, with the top 5 coming up with amazing ways to connect generations:
- Common Unity – This Topeka, Kansas program connects high school students with older adults to help the kids prepare for life after high school. The mentors guide the kids through applying for college, budgeting, financial literacy, and community service projects. Common Unity is only at Highland Park High School, but is hoping to expand throughout Topeka to foster a deeper sense of community in the city.
- Fostering Hope – Fostering Hope seeks to turn unconditional love into a program. This program connects older volunteers from faith communities to foster families and children. The volunteers serve as extended family to those in need, offering unconditional love through help with meeting practical needs like transportation, and continued support in less concrete ways. Adults in the program are paired with kids from infancy all the way to young adulthood, as a long-term relationship is shown to be more beneficial.
- Nuns & Nones – With so few young women becoming nuns, Sisters are looking for new ways to share their wisdom. One way is Nuns & Nones, a program that pairs nuns with millennials. These nuns help mentor the millennials, and guide them through dealing with modern issues like climate change and economic equality. The program hosts local gatherings, creates shared social justice work, opens co-living spaces and promotes spiritual practice.
- Read to Me International – Created by Haku Mo’oleo, Read to Me International recruits older volunteers to help teach incarcerated women to write, illustrate and publish storied for their children. The created books are sent home to their kids along with audio recordings to help the mothers stay connected to their families during their incarceration. The program seeks to alleviate the trauma of sudden separation caused by incarceration, and to provide older adults with a sense of purpose and belonging. Read To Me International is currently operating with the State of Hawaii Department of Public Safety.
- Seeing-i2i.com – This unconventional program connects low-income teens with older adults who want to learn video games. The goal is to help the youths gain job and college application experience, and the adults learn a modern skill, all while bolstering an intergenerational relationship. There are overwhelming statistics that support a need for this kind of program.
Which of these 5 ideas inspires you the most? How will you take that inspiration to form intergenerational connections in your own life? Tell us in the comment section.
Check back for more tips soon!